Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – August

 

monthly mini reviews version 2

Well somehow we’ve managed to whizz through July- the month Wimbledon and strawberries and cream!

tennis monkey

(obviously, this is not an accurate portrayal: if I’d been at Wimbledon, especially if I’d been playing, I think people might have noticed the giant orange primate 😉 still sometimes these cartoons act as wish fulfilment and it was a great tournament!)

I did take a step back from the blog last month, for some not-so-serious-but-still-a-pain personal reasons. But I’m happy to have squeezed in my giveaway– if you haven’t seen it yet and would like to enter there’s still time!

mythos

Mythos– wow- Fry has a real way with words- no wonder he’s such a national treasure! He awes you and makes you chuckle and delights you with his stories! It was a pure pleasure to read and appealed to my classicist heart. He knows so much, about so many topics- which I’ll admit at times was a bit of an *information overload*. But that’s not a bad thing- it gave me plenty to think about. I loved how the myths were woven together- he drew connections wisely, teases more to come, and ultimately entraps you in his wondrous tales. Whether I agree with every take is somewhat irrelevant, cos as Fry states, retellings shift the narrative to suit the teller. No two people will come away with exactly the same impressions from the originals- and so each telling is recreating them from scratch. And I love that idea as a basis for this project. Plus, I believe he leaned on Ovid, so I can hardly complain 😉 Mythos was a real treat and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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behind her eyes

Behind Her Eyes- oh the mixed feelings!! I was initially really taken in by this story. I liked the clean, easy writing style. I appreciated the switching timelines to create interest and tension. The jagged edges of secrets were poking through the narrative from the start. I guessed only bits and pieces of where it was heading. BUT- and here’s the kicker- there’s a reason you won’t be able to guess it all. Because the twist breaks all the rules of a thriller by being completely unbelievable. Maybe it’s the fault of knowing genre conventions to well, or maybe it’s just knowing enough about the topic of astral projection that this was wayyy too far beyond the realms of plausibility for me. So, sure, they were right to market this as #WTFThatEnding, because you’ll never get it before the end- but that’s because it doesn’t have a logical answer (I saw the most brilliant review on GR if you want an edgier take) I’m trying to avoid being spoilery, because I feel like this is something I could have done with knowing before getting into the novel. My warning to future readers is: don’t go into this book looking for realism. There’s a chance you might like this if you’re expecting something a bit more paranormal. You might find it fun if you’re along for the ride and don’t think too much about it (or secretly believe lucid dreamers have superpowers- fun fact: I’m a lucid dreamer, so unless I missed that day “in training”, there’s no magic to it 😉 ). Personally, while I was gripped throughout, I ended up feeling cheated, which is why I only gave it a slice of banana over 3*:

Rating: 3¼/5 bananas

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the marriage pact

audiobook2The Marriage Pact– this isn’t the worst book ever and would understand if people enjoyed it… that said I’m about to do nothing but bitch and moan about it. For starters, I listened to this on audiobook and my enjoyment was somewhat impacted by the fact that the voice actor did made every female character sound super cringey. A slightly bigger problem, however, was that THE CULT ASPECT MAKES NO SENSE. And that’s not a spoiler, because a) it couldn’t be anymore stereotypically cultish if it tried and b)  they jokingly call it a cult when it’s introduced. What’s bizarre about that is they pretend to have a back-and-forth debate over whether it is in fact a cult throughout the book- as if there’s any room for disagreement. What’s EVEN MORE bizarre is that, though they know it’s a dodgy organisation from the off, they join anyway?! Why would anyone want to be part of a club which dictates the minutia of your relationship? Exclusive or not, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to sign up. Aside from the odd party (emphasis on the odd- cos you can expect to be weighed, measured and found wanting at one of these auspicious events). I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure cults are sneakier at getting their claws into people and I’m baffled that this wasn’t more thought through. Anyway, as you might expect from their jumping headfirst into this shitshow, the main couple is a pair of bloody idiots. I particularly hated Alice- especially as she was so often framed as “perfect” and then falling short of that perfection (obviously). Add in antagonists who are all “the ends justify the means” clichés and you have a truly terrible cast. Yet the thing that really lost me was when this got faux philosophical- I mean, this is a silly thriller about a highend cult- call me crazy but I’m not looking for deep discussions about the “purpose of marriage” here. It didn’t help that the whole premise of what makes a good marriage came from a flawed vision of the unattainable Hollywood-style romance and I couldn’t help but think of Dr Jordan Peterson saying “what makes you think you want a relationship so you can be happy?” (it’s far more fascinating what he has to say on the matter, I can assure you, but the gist being research indicates relationships fail if they’re too negative BUT ALSO if they’re too positive). Anyway, back to this bonkers book, the ending was also spectacularly stupid: simultaneously predictable and underwhelming. There were a lot of more interesting places this idea could have gone. I did agree with the choice they made- which (since we’re getting all faux philosophical) basically came down to “do you want to be powerless and free or powerful and authoritarian”. For me, the answer’s a no-brainer. Just like my rating:

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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magic bites

Magic Bites– I enjoyed this, though I’m not sure it was totally for me. I can say for certain that it’s really well written and I get why people love it. Kate Daniels was a very cool character, with lots of personality in her voice. The story really came to life for me when Curran was introduced. The one thing (that I noticed) as a flaw was that there’s a lot in this world to get your head round and it’s kinda all dumped on your plate at once. Still, I had a great deal of fun with this:

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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summer of impossible things

The Summer of Impossible Things- what exquisite writing this has! And what a concept! There’s a mysterious film to this story, which had me turning page after page with increasing intrigue. The magical realism aspect totally worked for me as well. I’m not sure that I can pin down the wonder of the story in words. I will say, some of the subject matter weighed heavily on me and I guessed where it was going- but it was worth the journey regardless. It also had a surprisingly happy ending. Ultimately, it may not have been a story built on entirely possible things, but it was beautiful.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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the flatshare

The Flatshare– I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I ended up loving the quirkiness and ENJOYED THE HECK out of the story! I particularly loved how they bonded through notes- it was such a clever idea and gave it a modern love story feel (whilst buying into the age-old romance concept of having people fall in love through the written word and loving each other for who they are inside). For that alone, this was utterly heart-warming. It helped as well that the subplots were deeper than I expected. In terms of character, I wasn’t sold on Leon’s choppy voice to start with- yet found it grew on me and characterised him well. It also did a great job of contrasting Tiffy’s bubbliness, which came across in every bouncy sentence. Their meet-cute was hilariously sweet as well. The only real downside for me was that Justin was a little cartoonishly evil. Other than that, this was an entertaining summer fling- definitely recommend for romance lovers!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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the woman in black

The Woman in Black– this was deliciously creepy and compelling. Mysteries unfurl in the misty atmosphere as Hill draws us through her wickedly dark tale. Be warned: there’s no great twist or trick, just tragedy. Still, while this is not the most shocking story- it is the telling of it that makes it special. The writing was impressive: all the work was being done under the surface, legs kicking where you can’t see and all you have is the impression of floating through this magnificently drawn setting. The voice was like an apparition, thrilling and powerful throughout; the descriptions were vivid and tinged with horror. I lived in fear of each turn of the page and fresh encounters with her. I’ll admit I had trouble reading this one at night; I can safely say the Woman in Black had me thoroughly spooked- so job well done!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Phew, that was a little longer than usual. Some of those reviews definitely got away from me! So have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

50 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – August

  1. Have you been going through my bookshelves? 😂

    I’ve read most of them and completely agree with you on most of them. I possibly enjoyed the Marriage Pact a little more (I didn’t do the audio) and Magic Bites a little less (I’ve read too many similar books) but otherwise I concur.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahahaha!
      I’m glad you agree on most of them. I can understand that- I think that if I’d read the book, rather than the audio, it probably would’ve got an extra banana (but man, that narrator’s shrill “female” voice was dire!) That’s fair!

      Like

  2. I hated Behind Her Eyes it still makes me mad to think about. On the other hand I think Mythos would make a great show series especially if Fry was involved with the writing or if he did narration or something. I just could not help seeing that in my head the whole time I was reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh so so glad to not be the only one tbh!! I don’t understand why that book is so hyped or why the twist is called “great”- it’s frankly bizarre and ruined a perfectly good read! Oh that’s a really fab idea- I’d love that!

      Like

  3. I haven’t read any of these books, but The Summer of Impossible Things and The Woman in Black look really interesting (in completely different ways)! I’ve heard good things about Magic Bites. It’s not my typical fantasy read, but it does sound like a fun read and is on my TBR.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Enjoyed this.

    It’s funny how many books have “marriage” in the title … there’s also The Marriage Plot and The Marriage Clock. Those are just the ones that I know of.

    I love that the banana rating system allows you to give fine gradations of ratings … down to one slice of a banana.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree about Kate Daniels books, there are things to enjoy there, but I don’t see the greatness 😉 I’ve kind of liked the first, but the next one or two just annoyed me.
    I’m curious about Fry, I like the Greek mythology, read a few books, maybe I’ll get an audio version of this?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow I’m mesmerized with your reviews … love your spot on analysis and charming writing style! And boy, did you grab my attention with your cute banana ratings! 🍌 🍌🍌🍌🍌 5/5 definitely!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mythos is amazing and I listened to it on an audiobook and boy, was that a great choice for it. Also, The Summer of Impossible Things seems interesting, I might have to check it out and if you recommend The Flat Share then I might give it a try because I have mixed feelings about whether I want to read it or not.
    Great post, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I bet it was good on audio- I’ve requested the next one in that format, cos I really like Fry’s voice 🙂 I really liked that as well and flatshare was a lot of fun- if you like cute contemporary romance then I definitely recommend it. thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I liked The Flatshare. Seeing a whole relationship blossom via post it notes was fabulous. It was funny, quirky, sweet, touching, swoony. It sort of had it all for me. I adored Leon too

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to love watching tennis, but it’s been years and I don’t even know who is playing these days, lol. Glad to hear that Wimbledon was good this year! I love that Kate Daniels series, it’s fun and I loved the way it ended. It may actually be the only UF series I’ve actually completed now that I think about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t read The Flatshare, but I think it sounds adorable – I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Ugh your Behind Her Eyes experience is exactly why I don’t read many thrillers. If the explanation is lacking, why even bother?

    I hope you’re doing okay x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love, love, love the Woman in Black – which is especially note-worthy since I first read it for my GCSEs back in the day! It’s one of those books where the lack of a twist ending really works in its favour because the tragedy is just so horribly unrelenting and there’s no hope or happiness to be found… Urgh, shivers!

    Like

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